The Worldwide Impact of Blindness and Eye Diseases

People value vision as their most important sense and fear blindness as much or more than cancer or severe heart disease. Worldwide, an adult will go blind every five seconds, and a child will lose sight every minute. They will join the 314 million people who are already blind or struggling with low vision, including one out of every 28 Americans over the age of 40. In a world dominated by visual cues, loss of vision can equate to the loss of many things, including mobility, productivity and self-esteem. Visual impairment is often accompanied by feelings of social anxiety, isolation, depression, and hopelessness.

Experts project that by the year 2020, the number of blind persons in the United States will rise sharply from 3.3 million to 5.5. million. This nearly 70 percent increase is due to age-related eye diseases like macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy, as well as cataract and corneal diseases that affect both the young and old. The global economic impact of vision loss, estimated in 2010 at a staggering $3 trillion dollars, will no doubt rise accordingly.

Our mission at Mass. Eye and Ear is to provide state-of-the science clinical care to our patients, develop better treatments and cures for patients worldwide, and to train the next generation of leading ophthalmology clinicians and researchers.